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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 08:15 GMT 09:15 UK
Pilot scheme tests longer court hours
Handcuffs
Longer hours will help magistrates clear cases
Magistrates' courts in London and Manchester are set to open for longer hours as part of an effort to conquer high crime rates.

A Downing Street spokesman said the extended hours could help to tackle street crime.

It is also hoped the extended hours will help in dealing with night arrests and offer improved services to victims and witnesses by allowing more convenient opening hours.

If the initiative proves successful by the time it ends in September it could be extended to magistrates courts throughout England and Wales.

Backlog

The government hopes the change will tackle some of the cases that build up over the weekend and cut the backlog of cases facing staff on a Monday morning.

It could also mean that some people arrested on a Friday or Saturday evening appear in court that night.

In Manchester courts will now open at 0900 BST instead of 1000 BST, with evening sessions between 1600 BST and 2000 BST twice a week.

In London, Bow Street Magistrates' Court will hold late-night sessions between 1800 BST and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

See also:

10 May 02 | UK Politics
Courts cut delays in youth cases
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